Saturday, March 24, 2018

Shoes: Australian Icons

Beer gut, Bonds singlets, stubbies (shorts) and thongs (made in China) are unmistakable the marks of the true-blue male Ocker. POHMS may have superior underwear via Marks and Spencer but I doubt whether they have a singlet to beat a Bondy.

Whether we like it or not the humble thong, single or double plugger, is very much part of the Australian way of life for many and of course has recently enjoyed a fashion fling in the northern hemisphere. Still despite this not many citizens can boast of a thong throwing contest, but Australians can. No words yet as to whether this will aspire to an Olympic event but stranger things have happened.

Not that everyone would want to admit it, but a common parental punishment meted out to children in less enlightened days was a good backside tanning with your parent’s favourite thong. Now politically incorrect of course, many of us still bare the scars with pride. The love of thongs has even inspired poetry, as exemplified by Colin Thiele’s immortal words.

Thong are left over footsoles.
They are a part of their owners,
More human and personal
Than shirts or underpants.

Thongs know the feel of the ground:
They are like people’s footprints left lying around.

Appears all things Australian have taken American by storm and there has been a feeding frenzy to own a pair of Australian made Ugg boots. A complete sell out in shops, including Bloomimgdale’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, they exchanged hands via web auctions and reached a pretty penny, too.

Hollywood lovelies like Sandra Bulloch, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz cannot get enough of them. Ugg sales took a real rise when they appeared on The Oprah Wimfrey Show.

Back in the 70s Australian surfer Brian Smith came to California on the look out for something to bring back to Australia, instead he soon realised the US surfers had no ugg boots and set to filling the market by importing the boots from Australia and New Zealand. The existing US and Mexican sheepskin footwear industry was cottage based and these were systematically bought them out establishing the Ugg Australia Brand in 1978. Smoth sold the business in 1995 and now they are sold as luxury sheepskin footwear advertised in Vogue and Elle.

Cock A 3004 You little booty:Ugg and American shoo-in The Sunday
Times January 4 2004

Reviewed 24/03/2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Left and Right: Foot Factoids

Left and right are not opposites. Left, (lyft, lif, licht or leicht) means weak, worthless or fragile. Right, Old English riht, of Germanic origin is related to Latin rectus ‘ruled’, and from an Indo-European root denoting movement in a straight line. With as many as 25% of the world's population left sided, no-one is entirely sure why right sidedness prevails. Anthropologists believe ambidextrousness was more common in previous times but with the development of tools this made significant difference and tool users hand to adapt to the sidedness of the tool makers. Heredity may also play a role in left handedness and is thought to be the result of a recessive trait. However, the scientific community remains divided between heredity and environment.

Preference for the right side may in part be explained by the worship of the sun and the earth's rotation. In the northern hemisphere turning into the sun meant turning right, right handedness would prevail; people living in the southern hemisphere may then prefer their left side. Sun worshipers like the Aztec, Incas, the Japanese Shinto, Egyptians and Romans all worshiped the sun and considered the right to be good. For most, the left was the dark side. In many religions the choice of which side was used symbolized reverence to diety, something that was noted by the Syrian philosopher, Iamblichus (245- 325).

In Antiquity different civilizations held different beliefs. The Greeks considered the left side their best and Romans regarded the left as lucky. The Egyptians always put their left foot first when crossing the threshold of a haunted house.

"When stretching forth your feet to have your sandals put on, first extend your right foot".
Pythagoras (569 BC - 475 BC)

The Greek philosopher, mathematician was a committed vegan and would not have a student wear leather sandals.

Caesar Augustus (63 B.C. - 14 C.E.) was very superstitious on this point and considered it was very bad luck to cross the threshold of the door with the left foot. It is very bad luck to place the right foot in a left shoe. This superstition has been around for centuries and was written about since Roman Times. In Hudibras translated by Samuel Butler, Augustus Caeser’s untimely demise was forecast in rhythm.

"Augustus having by oversight Put on his left shoe for his right Had like to have been slain that day By soldiers mutinying for pay."

Gaius Petronius (27-66 A.D.), author of the Satyricon, and the Emperor Nero's advisor in matters of luxury and extravagance agreed. He advocated entering and leaving a dwelling house with the right foot foremost. To do otherwise was unlucky. Servants were positioned appropriately to ensure all those entering the house did so with their right foot. The person was called a footman and the position is with us to this day.

The word sinister for left originally referred to a pocket in a toga which always lay on the left hand side. The term sinister was later adapted to heraldry, but not before the terms became associated with the darker side of human behaviour. For centuries and in many countries and different cultures, left handedness was considered the weaker side, the second best, and morally, the evil side. Being left handed often refers to being in clumsy and may have its origins to a Roman assassin, when he failed in his duty subsequently burnt his right arm off.

The only positive reference to the left hand in the Bible relates to the commando style left handers or Benjamites. In the Book of Judges, Ehud was a left handed Benjamite yet ironically Ben Yamin means literally, Son of the Right hand. The word Satan has no connection with the left but is a Hebrew word meaning 'adversary'. Samael, the Prince of Demons and in Hebrew 'se'mol' means the left side. In the Vision of Judgment, St Matthew Ch XXV. The sheep (right side) are separated from the goats (left side) and many believe this scripture reference accounts for the association of sinister people with wickedness and evil doing. An old Jewish custom was to put on the right shoe on first without tying it, then the left sock. The put their left shoe on and went to the right sock and finished with the right shoe. To them the right side for the fortunate side.

Christian ritual certainly favours the right hand with three clear examples being the Benediction; making the sign of the cross; and giving communion. To give a blessing with the left hand was considered blasphemy and part of Black Mass. In countless paintings, the Christ figure is giving a blessing with his raised right hand.

In southern India there are two opposing castes the Right Hand Sect (Dakshina) and the Left Hand Sect (Vami or Vamachari) and many battles have taken place between them.

By the middle ages a common belief in Europe was witches caused injury by their touch of the left hand. Many rituals which celebrated sorcery included instructions to use the left hand for evil and the right for good. The mark of the devil was considered to be found on the left eyelid, shoulder or inner thigh. Moving in clockwise direction is common enough in folk dancing i.e. moving from left to right, however, to do the opposite was connected to satanic rituals.

Caesare Lombroso was a nineteenth century criminologist best remembered for his theories on the criminal foot, He noted most people who were left eyed or left footed were also left handed. At the time left sided people were viewed suspiciously and considered potential criminals, delinquents or mentally subnormal. Fortunately, there is no substance to this but until recently children were forced to adopt a right handed persuasion. In Lewis Carol’s Through the Looking Glass, the White Knight in referred to one who "might madly squeeze a right foot into the left hand shoe.

The left hand has been throughout history used for personal hygiene and although in modern society this distinction scarcely matters it is in many ways responsible for the taboo and physical prejudice against the left hand or unclean hand. Cack as in 'cack handed' or 'corrie fisted' means excrement and refers directly to the unclean hand. Note even today most toilets flush from a handle mounted on the left hand side of the system.

Left as in radical faction was introduced by Thomas Carlyle in 1837. It comes from cote gauche (left side), in the French Assembly of 1789 the conservative nobles sat to the presiding officer's right side, the radicals of the Third Estate to his left, and the moderates directly before him. A left footer is slang from Northern Ireland meaning a follower of the Catholic faith and a Molly-dooker was derived from Molly, an effeminate man, and dukes the slang for hands.

The left leg is considered weaker and there is good anatomical reason for this. In the womb, often the left leg gets caught against the mother's spin and is weaker as a result. The left foot forward of the military may be due to several reasons. Because the left leg is considered weaker it is common sense not to venture the right foot first. A more probable explanation is since the right arm holds the sword or spear; a left foot forward action will give the necessary momentum for the weapon to be in action after two paces. The Left foot forward traditional used by marching armies was a deliberate attempt to put fear in the hearts of the enemy, because the left foot meant a commitment to ‘no mercy.’

A southpaw or left handed person refers to a left handed pitcher in baseball and always faces south (in the Northern hemispheres). A southpaw boxer leads with his left fist. The term southpaw meaning left handed came from an incident described by Lord Baden Powel when greeting a defeated chieftain, he held out his right hand only to be told, men in the tribe welcomed the bravest of men with their left hand. From this story came the famous southpaw handshake of the boy scouts.

In the recent past left handed children were forced to write with their right hand. Better understanding has meant this is no longer true. Children generally use both hands until they are about 3 or 4. Then they begin to favour one hand over the other. One theory is left handers use the right side of their brain, the artistic side whereas right handers rely on the left side of the brain which is more word orientated. There is no scientific proof one way or the other.

Itchy palms usually mean left for bad luck and right for good. The right foot is marginally more ticklish then the left foot according to research conducted at Stirling University, Scotland. Regardless of handedness and footedness people seemed to be more ticklish on their right foot. Some experts consider the left side of the brain deals with emotions like laughter, and the right side deals with pain. The research indicated males were more ticklish than females.

Famous left handers include: Joan of Arc, King George VI, Harpo Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Rex Harrison, Kim Novak, Jesse Matthews, Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Olivia de Havailland, Mandy Rice Davis, Sir Paul McCartney, Danny Kaye, Terrance Stamp, Bill Clinton, Bob Charles (NZ), Phil Mickelson, Rus Cochran, & Richard Green (golfers) Rod Laver, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, Ringo Starr, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pablo Picasso and Jimi Hendrix. Ambidextrous people include Plato, King David, Leonardo di Vinci, Michelangelo, and Lord Baden Powell

Barsley M 1966 The left-handed book London: Pan Books Ltd

The World at Your Feet: Episode 3 - Men's Fashion and the Sneaker

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Why the Grave of President Lincoln’s Chiropodist has Become a Tourist Destination?

The film “Lincoln” has created an odd, new tourist destination in London’s Highgate Cemetery. It’s the grave site of Dr. Isacher Zacharie who tended to Abraham Lincoln feet during the Civil War. Learn more

Dr Isacher Zacharie

A brief history of socks

Today is World Down Syndrome Day and there is a call to show your support by wearing odd socks. Time then for a history lesson on the origins of socks.

Ancient Egyptians wore socks made from wool. One of the earliest examples was discovered circa 1888 by Flinders Petrie and dates from 4th-5th Centuries CE. It was found in Hawara, Egypt which was a Greek occupied land under Roman rule. The population was a mixture of Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and therefore a reasonable assumption all three civilisations wore socks. By about 1840 the word sock had become the accepted term describing hose for men and boys. It took until 1880 before it was accepted as clothing for young girls.

At first fashion conscious men wore silk socks with suspenders attached to below the knee. Working men wore woolen socks tied up with elastic garters. The phrase 'pull up your socks' is likely to have its origins about this time.

Improved kitting techniques and the incorporation of elasticized fibres later in the twentieth century meant socks could stay up on their own with no need for suspender or garter.

After World War II and clothing rationing, cotton and wool mixtures provided standard fare for most male fashions. By the end of the twentieth century, clever manipulation of polymer structures not only offered more robust coverings for the feet but also included anti-microbial action, which was used to combat unwanted smells and fungus. Some were manufactured in two layers, which were worn to reduce heat caused by dynamic friction and the cause of skin blistering.

New biotechnology provides hydroscopic fibres, which according to manufacturers; help draw moisture away from the skin thereby preventing buildup of perspiration on the skin surface. Long been a secret known only to children and back packers is to hide your cash and valuables in your socks. Well again thanks to the clever sock technology some socks include a safety compartment for storing valuables, like credit cards.

A popular range of socks today, is those which now incorporate your favorite cartoon character, your name, or some clever and witty slogan like "Got balls". This fashion dates back to earlier times when leggings were decorated with clock designs used to hide the seems at the ankle.

Podiatric researchers, from the University of Teeside, Department of Sport Science, have come up with the idea the humble sock can play an important role in preventing peak shock. Although the mechanical manufacture of socks has remained unchanged, the number of material combinations has increased with modern technology. Scientific studies have already shown wearing padded socks can reduce peak pressures by as much as 30% in people suffering diabetes and relieve pain in people with arthritic feet. The English researchers have tried to classify socks into those, which give the most and least protection. They concluded padded socks incorporating either acrylic cushioning or wool cushioning on the sole of the foot were by far the most efficient shock absorbers. These types of socks are commonly used for hiking or climbing. Cotton and double layer cotton hosiery gave no protection against shock, and somewhat surprisingly neither did toweling sport socks. Thickness of the gauge of the sock was considered significant and I am sure many knitters, will know the gauge is defined by as the number of needles per inch in manufacture. It is well known especially for those suffering cold or sweaty feet wool and cotton mix is the most convenient combination. The fabrics wash well and are less likely to shrink. In the case of people suffering cold feet, wool provides beneficial insulation. However according to this recent research incorporated cushioning in the sole of the sock can, for the adult, be very beneficial.


So for all you grandmothers out there, busily knitting socks for their baby grandchildren, stop what you are doing right now. Baby's doesn't need them, but you and grandfather do.

Further Reading
Sock It!
World Down Syndrome Day

Reviewed 22/03/2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

World Down Syndrome Day


Did you know the ring finger or soul finger could tell a lot about you?

According to experts each of our four fingers represents a different aspect of our personality. The ring finger or soul finger, some believe is where the soul leaves the body, after death. But in life, it provides clues about our creativity and sense of well being. Well it would do being the soul finger. Apparently all is revealed when the length of fingers are compared. Scientists have become very interested of late in what determines the length of fingers and have come up with a fascinating explanation. In males the length of fingers is determined by the levels of androgens (that’s male sex hormones) contained within the embryonic fluid, during early pregnancy. When the ring finger is longer than the index finger then, according to scientists, men have high levels of testosterone and prone to male-pattern baldness, among other things. When the ring finger is the same length as the index finger, this indicates normal levels of testosterone. This is usually opposite in women. Tesearchers believe men with longer ring fingers for their height are prone to suffer depression and if that was not bad enough others have found the ratio between the fingers on the right hand may be an indication of a person's sexual orientation. Here was me thinking it was just only two fingers but before you pull out the ruler or size up your hands the differences in finger length are just fractions of an inch. In addition, the findings are merely a statistical relationship, meaning that there are likely to be many men and women who do not fit the pattern.

The index, or first, finger tells a lot about your leadership abilities, ambition, and self-esteem. Your middle finger shows how responsible you are and whether your attitude toward life is serious or carefree. People with average length index fingers are not especially dominating but neither are they easily led either. A long index finger indicates assertiveness and driving ambition are accompanied with self-confidence. A very long index finger is found in bossy people always pointing the finger. Natural leaders and athletes have long index fingers as a rule. People with shorter than average index fingers are somewhat timid. In the average hand, the index and ring fingers are about the same length but a noticeably shorter index finger may belong to a cold individual who probably dislikes having restrictions placed upon them. These people dislike criticism but are happy to give it out. Scientists have associated the size of the index finger to the levels of estrogens bathing the foetus.

A study published by the British Journal of Cardiology, implies a correlation between the ring and index fingers which indicated heart conditions a ring finger equal to or shorter than the index finger in males make them more prone to heart attacks in later life. This association is well founded since level of male sex hormones has been connected with cardiac behaviour. Long ring finger youths excel at sport, although they might struggle to communicate. Men whose ring finger is roughly the same length as their index finger tend to be poor at sport but are better able to express themselves. Among women, risk-taking and assertiveness are linked to a relatively long ring finger. A tendency to throw caution to the wind, coupled with relatively poor communication skills, may also be found among women with this shape hand. Women with roughly equal ring and index fingers can tend towards being neurotic with an aversion to risk and low assertiveness, but are linked to good communication skills. Links between finger length and breast cancer, autism, dyslexia and fertility have also been found.

The middle finger is used to judge others and difficult to determine whether it's long, short, or average in length by itself. The middle finger is associated with responsibility. A long middle finger indicates a very responsible person and sometimes a lonely individual. More relaxed people have short middle fingers and share a fun-loving approach to life. Medium-length middle fingers are seen in the well balanced.

How Dominic Chambrone Became The Shoe Surgeon

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Socks 'n' Sandals : Who's bad ?

Revelations: When Michael Jackson was photographed wearing white socks with his sandals and it caused a real buzz with the paparazzi. Fashionista went ballistic over the advisability or otherwise of wearing socks with sandals.

Long considered a fashion faux pas, maybe fashion divas have overlooked the Roman Invasion.

Excavations of a Romano-Celtic temple complex at Tabard Square in Southwark, London unearthed a bronzed foot, which is by itself a rare find. However worse to come and the pedal extremity had the fashion audacity of wearing socks and sandals. How uncouth.

It has long been thought the humble sock was around 2000 years ago and no reason why it would not be worn but this is the first actual physical evidence to confirm it. The weather in Britain at that time was terrible. (What’s changed?) and Tacitus recorded this at the time.

Archeologists are still undecided but believe the foot may have belonged to a statue of the god, Camulos (Mars) who was worshipped in northern France and Britain. Inscriptions of the god's name have been found elsewhere on the temple site. Alternatively, the foot may be from a statue of an emperor. Since statues were never made of the plebs it may just have been an isolated case of bad taste.

Leg coverings have been discovered in bog bodies and bodies trapped in glaciers, which predate the current, find. So people in colder climates would most certainly cover their feet for protection. It would take until knitting was discovered before actual socks, as we would understand them, to appear as common costume accessories.

Another discovery in Somerset set the archeological world on its feet because the Iron Age shoe is thought to predate previous finds of Roman sandals. The shoe is a rectangular bag of leather but has vertical stitching at the heel and six pairs of lace holes in the vamp so it is definitely a shoe. The shoe was found at Whitehall Quarry, near Wellington, was the equivalent to a modern size 9 or 10, and was so well preserved that the stitching and lace holes were visible in the leather. Usually animal and vegetable materials perish in the ground but due to unusual conditions the artifact was preserved in pristine condition thanks to the clay which surrounded it. The shoe has been dated to between 2000 and 2500 years old. The first Roman Invasion of Britain was in 55 BC. Footwear from this period is extremely rare although a handful of relics have been found in other European countries. The shoe had no partner and experts believe it may have been left as a lucky charm, a common practice in the middle ages.


When a cache of Roman Sandals was found in York, England, many had been worn. Surprisingly from scientific analysis of the examples, which spanned children to adult sizes, experts found the same wear marks as would be seen on modern shoes. It appears in two millennia, the anatomy of human feet has not changed despite the influence of footwear.

Socks and sandals – Who’s Bad?

Reviewed 30/01/2016

Cobbler, Cobbler by Hayley Mills

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rock stars and their shoes

The term fetish is too easily misused today, and is frequently associated with celebrities who collect lots of shoes, and there are a few of them. One of the trappings of affluence is accumulation of material items which becomes meaningless. Just ask Elton John or Oprey Winfrey, both have auctioned off their old gear, including hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Restifism (shoe fetish) means you would need to have sex with the shoe and there are not too many musicians willing to admit to that. Like all performers, musicians are a superstitious bunch and have favorite shoes they wear for special occasions like at recording studios or live performances.

Brain May of Queen, for instance always wears clogs on stage. Many musos put their right shoe on first for good luck. Just in the same way we all have a right and wrong side of the bed. This relates to human beings trying to control the fortunes of destiny. Shoes are a special type of costume which is often chosen to complete an outfit. That means there is a lot more conscious effort goes into what kind of shoes we wear. Men dress to comply with an image whereas women dress to complement their personality. Rock stars are no different.

If there was ever an item of clothing which epitomized the style and fashion of an era it would have to be shoes (or their absence). Take yourself into any cd/record store and you can pick up a dozen covers of compilation hits and three quarters of them will depict fashionable shoes of the time.

What is more these are instantly recognizable and to all generations.

Billy Joel captures this sentiment in the lyrics of his pop song, "It's still rock and roll to me."

“How about a pair of pink sidewinders (sandals)
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers."
Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me.

It's still rock and roll to me
Billy Joel

Musos can get typecast with a particular shoe style, so EmInem would look a lot less cool to his crew, dressed in disco platforms, and the thought of Cliff Richard on stage wearing thrasher Vans, is almost unthinkable. Many pop stars have personalized their shoes.

The Bay City Rollers for example had their initials on their boots for all to see. The UK duo Bros, in the eighties, wore beer bottle tops on their trainers.

Chubby Checker wore basket weave shoes and Joe Cocker sported a cracking pair of cowboy boots with stars, on stage, at Woodstock.

Shoe designers and rock costumiers love ambiguity, something shared with musical performers like David Bowie.

In the 70s androgenous rock, Bowie (aka Ziggy Stardust) wore platform boots to heighten the small performer on stage, the elfin, Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan meantime sported heelless pumps.

Height challenged Elton John found the fashionable platforms useful to extend his reach over the piano. Front men and solo performers tend to be better dressed with drummers (precisionists) scruffier than most. Lead guitarists are creative and in touch with their female side so veered towards stylish sneakers or casual fashion. Bass men, are pretty conservative and preferred better quality shoes.

Rappers wear designer trainers; new era grunge prefer thrasher (Sk8er) shoes; and Neo-punk go solid for the old Doc Martens.

West Coast music outfits into niche Country and Western rock wear boots in keeping with their cowboy machismo.

Reviewed 29/01/2016